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Consumer Alert

With The Home Depot disclosing additional findings related to the recent breach of its payment data systems, Attorney General Kilmartin is urging Rhode Island consumers who have shopped at any one of the more 2,200 stores in the United States since April to monitor their banking and credit card accounts and sign up for the one free year of credit monitoring that the company is offering.

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In addition to the previously disclosed payment card data, separate files containing approximately 53 million email addresses were also taken during the breach. These files did not contain passwords, payment card information or other sensitive personal information. The company is notifying affected customers in the U.S. and Canada. Customers are also cautioned to be on guard against phishing scams, which are designed to trick consumers into providing personal information in response to phony emails. Information about how to avoid phishing and other email scams is available here.

Click here to read the consumer advisory previously issued by Attorney General Kilmartin and here for tips for consumers impacted by the breach.

Consumer Protection Unit

The Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, the Attorney General may file a Civil Investigative Demand in Superior Court commencing a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.

Attorney General Kilmartin Renews Warning of IRS Phone Scam

Acting on information that Rhode Island consumers are once again being targeted by a phone scam involving the IRS, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has renewed efforts to warn Rhode Islanders and share information on what to look for and how to avoid being scammed.

In this most recent wave of the IRS scam, individuals are contacting taxpayers via telephone, telling them they owe back taxes and demand that the victim pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller often threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

If you get a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS asking you to pay back taxes, hang up and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.

In 2013, the Unit conducted approximately 150 outreach presentations to senior centers, community groups and organizations throughout Rhode Island in an effort to educate and protect consumers from scam artists.

In addition, multiple consumer alerts and advisories were issued during 2013, covering such topics as consumer settlements, fake invoices, phishing scams, fake jury duty and arrest scam, a "car wrap" scam, possible scams relating to sporting events and holiday shopping tips.

In 2013, the Unit responded to more than 6,229 telephone calls, 1,144 written complaints, 1,534 e-mail inquiries and 74 walk-ins. The Unit recovered approximately $970,000 on behalf of individual consumers. The Unit referred 387 consumer complaints to other agencies. The Unit also registered telemarketers resulting in $3,200 and health clubs resulting in $4,850 in fees for the state during 2013.

For a third year, the Office participated in National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-9, 2013. The Office partnered with Doc Shredding Corp. and provided eight free shredding events throughout Rhode Island in an

"DRAM" Settlement

Consumers who purchased computers, printers, video game consoles or other electronic devices with DRAM memory from 1998-2002 may be eligible for money from settlements.

For more information, visit www.DRAMclaims.com or call 1-800-589-1425.

attempt to provide a safe way for consumers to discard documents and avoid possible identity theft issues.

The Office also issued letters to nine companies regarding possible data security breaches and reminded the businesses of Rhode Island's Identity Theft Protection Act.